When it comes to sports…tennis is one of my favorite ways to stay fit. If you are one of the many sport enthusiasts that play tennis or golf, I’m sure you are very familiar with the problem of tennis or golf elbow.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of common misconceptions floating around about these two injuries. The biggest myth is the notion that only tennis or daily golfers are at risk. The truth is that even the casual athlete and people who never pick up a golf club can suffer these injuries.
Golf and Tennis Elbow – two different injuries
Both golf and tennis elbow are overuse injuries caused by repetitive stress on the muscle tissue of the forearm. However, tennis elbow occurs where the tendons of the forearm attach to the outside of the elbow, while golf elbow occurs on the inside. You will know which condition you have by the location of the pain.
Improper backhand technique in tennis can put undue pressure on the muscle tissue, resulting in inflammation and tiny tears in the tendon. In the game of golf, gripping your club too tightly and regularly swinging with great force are usually the reasons for injury. Other activities, sometimes at home or on the job, can result in one of these conditions. For example, using a screwdriver, raking, painting, weaving and hammering are all repetitive acts that can lead to tennis elbow if you do not listen to your body’s needs.
Here’s How You Can Help Protect Your Elbows!
The best way to prevent most athletic injuries is to strengthen the body. Strong muscles are less susceptible to tears and can withstand a certain level of stress. Any exercise that works the forearms, perhaps using light hand weights, will strengthen this area.
Hand in hand with strengthening comes stretching. Flexible muscles and joints are capable of bending and twisting as you play with less risk of strain. Always warm up and stretch. Another great way to improve flexibility is by taking supplements specially formulated to strengthen joints.
If you currently suffer from tennis or golf elbow, the pain has probably been escalating for several weeks now. Your muscles tissues are inflamed and only rest will give them the chance to recover. If your arm is swollen, ice packs should be applied regularly. Once the swelling goes away, compression may help the injury heal more quickly. Wrap a first aid bandage tightly around the sore area. Forearm splints are another way to keep from straining the injured arm.
When it comes to diet, vitamin supplements, especially omega-3 fatty acids, may be helpful. These healthy fats are known to fight inflammation related to many conditions. If you have a history of tennis or golf elbow, regular supplements could be a good choice. There are many natural solutions to relieve the pain of this injury.
Remember that often sport-related injuries need to have plenty of rest so that the inflammation will disappear quickly. Now that you know more about golf and tennis elbow and how to prevent it, you should be able to enjoy your favorite activities without fear. The best advice is to take it easy and stop if you feel any pain. Listening to your body will keep it in sports-ready shape for years to come.
Mark Bromson, M.D.